L. Neil Smith's

Number 4, January 1996

Harry Browne Lawsuit Rejected by Arizona Judge

By Mike Dugger

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         On Wednesday, December 13, 1995, Judge Bernardo P. Velasco of the Pima County (Tucson) Superior Court briskly dismissed a complaint against four-time Arizona Libertarian Party Chair Rick Tompkins, current Chair Tamara Clark, and 17 other Libertarian activists. The frivolous complaint was filed in September by a rogue group of self-styled "Libertarians" who sought to be recognized as the "official" Libertarian Party of Arizona.
         In his stinging rebuke of the "crack" legal team of Peter Schmerl and Ed Kahn, Judge Velasco noted that, although they complained of being unjustly denied the recognition thought they deserved, they had nonetheless failed to name as defendants the Arizona Secretary of State and the Libertarian National Committee. As these were the entities who had denied them their recognition, the judge was at a loss to understand how such an oversight had occurred.
         "Judge Velasco's decision finally clears the way for us to take off the gloves and come out swinging full-time in Rick's campaign to win the LP Presidential nomination," said campaign manager Tamara Clark. "We do not expect to win that nomination in Washington this July, by the way. We hope to have it wrapped up well before then. Rick is delighted to finally be out campaigning full-time. We look forward to taking his message of true Libertarian principles to every state convention next year while Harry Browne is busy with his book tour."
         The lawsuit had been brought by a small clique of Harry Browne supporters in Tucson, whom Browne admits in his Oct. 27 campaign mailing had the personal help of his campaign manager in the summer voter registration drive. The registration drive proved to be yet another doomed scheme by Browne's supporters on the Libertarian National Committee to help the Tucson dissidents take over the Arizona party.
         Supporters of the Tompkins-Clark-Dugger group vindicated by Judge Velasco's decision believe the pro se lawsuit (Browne's main supporters, Schmerl and Kahn, are attorneys) was a transparent attack on Tompkins (Brownes's leading opponent for the LP Presidential nomination) and his Arizona-based campaign staff -- virtually all of whom were named in the suit -- and obviously designed to tie up their time and cripple their ability to raise funds to expose Browne's non-libertarian, anti-gun, pro-tax views, as well as Browne's broken promises to campaign heavily (and win) in the New Hampshire primary, and the vast salaries Browne is paying LP national staff and committee members, and even his own daughter, Autumn Wilson, who last August and September was being compensated as a "consultant" at a rate of over $1300 per week.
         The brisk dismissal of the hare-brained complaint came as no surprise to the Tompkins-Clark-Dugger camp named in the suit, as they had recently witnessed this same Schmerl-Kahn team taking tax-financed matching funds during Kahn's Tucson mayoral campaign -- a campaign they billed as Libertarian. That campaign was singled out for recognition by self-styled "Libertarian", Harry Browne, in his recent fundraising letter.
         This recognition was expected as the Kahn campaign had done all its fundraising by sending letters to Libertarian donors imploring them that support for Kahn would also benefit the campaign of Harry Browne. The benefit proved tangible as Browne polled a much higher percentage in Tucson's CityVote election than he did nationally, (approx 1.6% vs. 0.96%). Kahn, however, polled a smaller percentage than Gaylynn Goetzke had in 1991 against the same incumbent Democrat -- without the use of tax-financed matching funds.
         It was also no surprise since, in a November 13 deposition under oath, Pima county "Libertarian party secretary" Arthur Kerschen stated that he had posted the suit to various Libertarian internet lists for the express purpose of damaging the reputations of Rick Tompkins and Tamara Clark. Kerschen, Schmerl and Kahn are avid Browne supporters. Kerschen admitted he had hatched his scheme in an attempt to convince Libertarians that Tompkins and Clark were "unworthy of support" and allowed that, although it would also damage the reputations of the 17 other Libetarian activists named in the suit, that this was acceptable.
         Another interesting Kerschen admission was that he had posted the amended complaint to the Libertarian internet world on September 11 -- the same day it was filed in Pima County Superior Court. He stated that he had received a copy from Peter Schmerl that same day. Schmerl, he said, had given him a copy of the suit knowing that he intended to publish it in this way -- and was kind enough to provide it to him on computer disk.
         On Monday, December 18, Schmerl told John Buttrick, 1994 Libertarian candidate for Arizona governor and also named in the suit, that he intended to appeal the Judge's dismissal. It was unclear whether Schmerl would add the Libertarian National Committee as a defendant when he appeals. It is seen by all the victims of Schmerl and Kahn's harrassment that their efforts were merely a transparent attempt to hang a "Cloud" over the Tompkins campaign by means of a hopeless and frivolous law suit in an effort to deflect their efforts at opposing Harry Browne for the LP presidential nomination.
         Schmerl has very close and longstanding ties to Browne campaign "volunteer" Michael Emerling "Cloud" who also hails from Tucson (as does LP National Director and paid Browne staffer Perry Willis); and Browne's fundraising letter placed "Cloud" in Tucson at precisely the time the harrassment suit was being drafted. "Cloud" is best remembered from his pre-"Cloud" days in 1992 when he sought to sink the campaign of LP presidential nominee Andre Marrou -- a campaign he had headed until the fall of 1991.
         For verification contact the Pima County Superior Court in Tucson Arizona and reference case no. 308234

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